Rare Japanese Medal: Korean Empire Imperial Tour

The title I wrote here asserts that this is a Japanese medal, which isn’t exactly true. The medal itself is from the Korean Empire, but at the time this medal was established (1909), Korea had in most respects become part of the Japanese Empire. This officially happened in 1910, but after the Russia-Japan War (1904-5), Korea was a Japanese protectorate.

The medal is made just as the Japanese medals were, with the same kind of ribbon and hook and eye catch in the back. The simple suspension device was also used on some Japanese and Manchukuo medals. Peterson claims that the Korean orders and medals were probably made in Korea, and the inferior quality of many of the Korea pieces seem to confirm this. So they were either made using the Japanese medals as models or under the guidance of Japanese officials. Or both.

In the next few posts I’ll show a couple of  medals from this era. Today is the Imperial Tour Commemorative Medal. This medal was established in 1909 when the Korean Emperor Yunghui toured the southern and western areas of Korea. This medal may have been awarded to members of his entourage and perhaps to assorted officials living in the visited areas. And also, perhaps, to officials associated with the tour in various ways.

japanese medal korean badge imperial empire award

japanese medal korean badge imperial empire award

The obverse has the Korean Emperor’s banner (with a plum blossom). The tassels are flying in the wind.

The reverse:

japanese medal korean badge imperial empire award

japanese medal korean badge imperial empire award

The inscription here is entirely in Korean, which I cannot read. I will use the translation given in Peterson’s excellent book Orders and Medals of Japan and Associated States:

‘Great Korean Empire, Great Korean Emperor, Trip to the South and West Commemorative Medal, Yunghui 3 [1909].’


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